“I think the Holy Spirit has left me,” I texted to my best friend late one night after getting my kids into bed. I’d lost my patience with them throughout the evening as they fought over who was more stupid, who really had Jesus in their heart, who made the mess, who loves the dog more, who the dog loves more, who peed on the toilet, who’s driving mom crazier (it was a draw) – you get the idea. I’d repeated every command 3,000 times before getting any response, and at that point the caliber of my voice rivaled the sound of an artillery range. I was ready to trade in the whole wife and mom thing for a beach towel and a suntan.
A week or so later my best friend called an emergency meeting. Because she lives four hours away, this included her loading her three small children into the minivan and trekking across the mountains. She brought dark chocolate, which she hates, just for me. She knows my love language is chocolate. We talked for hours as all our kids ran in and out of the house, never once closing the door behind them. Soon there were more flies than children.
We talked about all the big stuff: the challenges of marriage, the exhaustion of expectations, the fears of failure, and all the things that we feel are slipping through the cracks as we try to be the best we can be.
In a moment of weariness she confessed, “I just don’t like being a mom anymore. Am I a terrible person?” She was on the cusp of crying, and I knew it would be only a moment before she would succumb to feeling guilty about her statement. Because that’s what always happens when we voice the heaviness of our heart out loud.
“No,” I reassured her, putting my hand on her arm. “We all feel that way at some point. You just need a break.” I thought again about my own suntan fantasy.
We all have moments when our plates are so full that we feel like our calling to be a wife and mom is an elaborate plot to make us feel like we’re failing at something – if not everything.
After all, here are a few truths I’ve discovered about being a mother:
- We all lose our patience. And when we don’t, we can slink into bed at night and celebrate being a good mommy by eating a piece of dark chocolate.
- Our frustration will sometimes spill out as we speak to our husbands in a way that would make Jesus scold us for being hypocrites. After all, we’re trying to raise children who speak with respect.
- We all have days when we catch ourselves muttering words like, “I just don’t want to be a mom…” But what happens next? Our newsfeed on Facebook is filled with stories about parents losing their children or the sweet faces of toddlers dying of cancer. Perspective comes to burn us with guilt hot like lava.
I’ve lived through many parent’s worst nightmare, crying myself to sleep for months, wondering if I’d know joy again. And then somewhere along the road it all became normal and complaining felt comfortable again, even after all that perspective. Despite my own personal tragedy, I’ve muttered, “I can’t be a mom today.”